William Hannah

The UK’s Northern Pen Show

The Dalmeny Hotel where the Northern Pen Show took place

Last week I’ve been to my first ever pen show. That took a while… I’ve been using fountain pens for more than 35 years and have been blogging about pens for seven years, but no pen show until now.

Kirit Dal, who I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog, told me about the Northern Pen Show in Lytham St. Annes, organised by UK Pen Shows – just 40 minutes drive from my home. Luckily things worked out so that it was possible to go there.

Fountain Pen Show Here Today

We had glorious weather, which gave the whole day a great atmosphere to start with and once we, i.e. the whole family, arrived at the pen show it got even better, as everyone was super friendly.

On the Pen Addict podcast I heard Brad and Myke take about the size of pen shows by mentioning the number of tables, with small ones having around 20 tables and big ones 250 tables. Well, this one was one of the smaller pen shows with about 30 tables.

The focus of this pen show seems to have been vintage fountain pens, and from what I’ve heard and read this seems to be the norm. There were however also new pens and other stationery items, like ink, notebooks etc, available.

I brought my Nock Co. Hightower Pen Case and a few fountain pens

I thought I bring some fountain pens along, just in case there is some nib grinding going on. The most expensive pen I own for example has an F nib, but writes wider than most M nibs, but unfortunately there were no nib meisters around.

Kirit Dal
Kirit Dal

After I got a plan of the pen show I was trying to find Kirit Dal, who told me about this show in the first place. He wasn’t listed, so I thought he’s not there ..but later I noticed a suspiciously large amount of Robert Oster inks on one of the tables – and it turned out that the Oster inks belonged to the man I had been looking for!


John Hall (Write Here)
John Hall (Write Here)

I also met John Hall again. I first met him in 2014 when I found his shop Write Here while spending a weekend in Shropshire.


David Round (William Hannah)
David Round (William Hannah) sorry for the blurred photo

A while ago Scribble sent me some William Hannah paper. I certainly remember the paper – discovering the printer steganography on the paper came as a surprise to me. Well, I also came across David Round, the founder of William Hannah. He told me where the name of his company is from (his children’s name) and explained where all the different parts of his notebook are made. I thought it’s impolite if I start writing things down, but now I don’t remember 100% which part came from where, so I better don’t mention these details at all. Unfortunately the photo of him is not so clear – well my digital camera is nearly ten years old and I should have taken more than one photo, but unless you click on the image to see the large version it might look acceptable.

You can see the hotel from the pier (on the right)

The weather was so nice, after visiting the pen show we went to St. Annes’ pier, which was just outside. You can see the hotel from there (just on the right).


We had a great day out!

William Hannah’s dotted grid paper

William Hannah paper

A few weeks ago Scribble sent me a sample paper pack containing paper sheets from many different companies, all carefully prepared (‘hole punched’ and the corners rounded) so that they can be used in Atoma, William Hannah or similar disc bound notebooks.

On more than one occasion I have stated how good Atoma’s paper is. It is basically in a class of its own – but with United Inkdom having a closer look at William Hannah’s notebook I thought it might be worth having a closer look at the paper that comes with the William Hannah notebook – different sheets of W.H. paper were part of Scribbles sample paper pack.

Printed on consumer equipment?

Let me start by saying that the William Hannah paper is rather unusual, at least the dot grid version is: It contains printer steganography. The best reason for this I could come up with is that the paper is prepared (cut, punched and the corners rounded) in very small batches. So small that consumer printing equipment might have been used to print the dot grid pattern. That would explain the yellow dots from the printer steganography as well as the fact that the purple used for the purple dots is made up of red and blue areas, i.e. the colour is mixed. [1]I assume that if you would do this big style you would use the colour you want to use instead of mixing it in your printer. The dots are also reflective, like colour laser printed documents, unlike inkjet printer printed documents.

Depending on your screen the yellow dots might or might not be easy to see
Depending on your screen the yellow dots in the picture above might or might not be easy to see

Regarding the printer steganography: you can certainly see repeating patterns. I don’t have the time at the moment or I would try to decode the pattern using the EFF’s instructions.

Paper quality

I find the paper to be of good, but not exceptional quality. In terms of darkness and roughness, it seems a tiny bit worse than the good Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “Whitewash” white paper you can find in the Field Notes County Fair edition, but it is certainly no match for Atoma’s paper.

If I had a William Hannah notebook I’d be happy with the paper that comes with it, just to keep things simple.  It is good paper, but depending on how happy you are to go the extra mile it might be worth experimenting with refills from other brands.

Violin plot comparing William Hannah paper with previously tested paper
Violin plot comparing William Hannah paper with previously tested paper

The violin plot was done using the same parameters (1.5 Newton force, etc) as the paper comparison in this blog post.

You can read more about William Hannah at United Inkdom and Scribble’s blog.

Atoma’s ruitertassen notebook, which is similar to William Hannah’s notebook can be seen in a previous blog post.

UPDATE: A year after this blog post I met David Round, the man behind William Hannah at the Northern Pen Show.


1 I assume that if you would do this big style you would use the colour you want to use instead of mixing it in your printer.